Although you could just get help from your school counselor, many students and families often make the extra effort to hire a private college consultant. Paying for a college counselor can have its benefits but sometimes at a large cost. So should you invest in a college counselor? Is it worth the price? Will it benefit you more than using the resources you have for free? Read on to figure it out!
What is a college counselor?
A college counselor is someone who helps you with every aspect of the college admission process, from picking your high school classes and extracurriculars to applying for scholarships to working on college essays to submitting your applications. College counselors are different from high school counselors because they often have fewer students to work with and more time to build academic plans specifically for your needs. While high school counselors are free (at least if you go to a public school), private college counselors usually cost at least $2,000. Each counselor will offer different packages, and the price will depend on various factors, like when you start working with your counselor and what you specifically need. School counselors can help you succeed in high school and make it to graduation, but not all counselors necessarily have the tools or experience to help you get into your top-choice college.
Related: The Value of an Independent Educational Consultant
Why you might benefit from a private counselor
If you have big ambitions for college, you’ll greatly benefit from your own college counselor starting as early as possible. They can help you pick the right classes and activities and plan out all four years of high school in a manner that’ll get you into your top-choice school(s). The earlier you start, the more help and guidance they can give you. Some people start their sophomore or junior year, and a college counselor can help a lot with test prep, searching for scholarships, and starting the college search. However, many people will hire a consultant just for senior year because of how complex the college admission process is. If you’re a first-generation student applying to college, private counselors can be extremely helpful with the whole process to make sure you find schools that support you and your growth. If you get one during senior year, they mostly will help with essays, application sections, and financial aid, as the rest of your hard work and research is behind you by this point.
Do you really need a college counselor?
The internet is a great resource; you can learn anything about the college admission process through websites like PrepScholar, Common App, CollegeXpress, and more. You can ask current college students who just went through the process. English teachers can read over your essays. There are plenty of free resources if you feel like you can’t afford a private counselor. There are even some lower-cost options like Key Prep College Apps, a website that has college students review (not write!) your essays for different costs depending on the number of words you submit. But if you can afford one, a college counselor can help tailor your goals and needs to your college preferences and help you do what’s best for you, which is backed by trained experience as opposed to doing your own research online. College counselors work specifically in this field and are well versed with the admission environment, so their ability to help you mold your applications is unmatched—and in that sense, their abilities can be worth the cost.
Related: 6 Reasons to Put in Effort With Counselors and Teachers
You have a breadth of options for getting through the college search and application process, but all you can do is what’s best for you within your financial and academic means. Remember, hiring a private college counselor doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get into your top-choice school(s), and not getting a college counselor doesn’t mean you’re at a great disadvantage. They’re helpful but by no means necessary.
Whether you’re working with a private counselor or not, check out these awesome free resources for your college search from CollegeXpress!